Human Tissue Needed to Reduce Animal Use for Biomedical Research

human scalp epidermis
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WASHINGTON—A new report published in ALTEX identifies the challenges of accessing high-quality human body tissues for research and presents a strategy to increase the access to and availability of this invaluable biological material and source of medical data. A more predictive material for studying human biology than nonhuman (i.e., animal) methods, human tissues hold great potential for furthering our understanding of human biology and disease pathology, and for developing safe and effective medical products.

Recognizing the opportunities for human body tissue samples to contribute to a better understanding of human health and disease, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine convened a workshop with key stakeholders from the research community, regulatory agencies, and organ procurement organizations to examine ways to increase the use of human organs, tissues, and cells in research, including areas of policy, scientific development, and public engagement. 

The workshop facilitated a consensus among stakeholders that there is a need to educate the public and medical professionals about the impact of tissue donation in order to motivate individuals to become donors, and to ensure that medical professionals are prepared to facilitate that process and provide additional information. Stakeholders also agreed that additional education for researchers on the usefulness of human tissue will simplify the transition away from limited animal models. 

“As the limitations of nonhuman research methods hinder biomedical advancement, the unharnessed potential of human tissue becomes undeniable,” said Janine McCarthy, MPH, research policy specialist with the Physicians Committee, and lead author of the report. 

To interview lead report author Janine McCarthy, MPH, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or

From Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,